Condo developers plan smaller units — with smaller prices — near WakeMed

A group of developers wants to build a 176-unit condo project adjacent to WakeMed hospital in Raleigh
A group of developers wants to build a 176-unit condo project adjacent to WakeMed hospital in Raleigh Courtesy of The Longview

A veteran group of developers has plans for a new condominium building next to WakeMed hospital, a project that hopes to take advantage of growth along the city’s New Bern Avenue corridor.

The group — made up of brothers Michael and Andrew Sandman, as well as Steve Simpson and Randy N. Robertson — has been patiently waiting to develop the land, at 101 Poe Drive, over the past decade, watching carefully as growth from downtown Raleigh quickly spilled into the eastern side of the city.

And now, the group believes the city has gotten to a point where the project is viable.

“We have always liked the location,” Andrew Sandman said in a phone interview, describing himself as a “big believer” in the New Bern Avenue corridor. “We were sitting there and watching the growth of downtown and watching the increased rents of downtown, and we were just in the background getting this project ready.”

The project’s origin dates back to 2010, when the group used a limited liability company to buy the 2.5-acre land for $1.2 million, according to county records. The land was once part of the historic Longview Estate. Fittingly, the building will be named The Longview.

The group has a lot of experience building residential projects in Raleigh, previously having built condo projects such as the Paramount building in the Glenwood South neighborhood, The Cypress condos in North Raleigh and Chandler Place in North Hills.

There are several large-scale projects currently under construction or near completion in downtown Raleigh, with many more expected to follow suit in the coming months.

Small layouts

But this project will have an increased emphasis on smaller layouts compared to some of those other projects.

The new building will have 176 condos, and the units there will range in size from 550-square-foot one bedroom condos to 1,150-square-foot two bedroom condos. The Longview project will be built over two phases, with the first one including 72 units and having an expected completion date of 2021. The second phase’s timeline is still up in the air, the group said.

Longview Rendering Poe Drive - FINAL FORMAT 11 X 17 -3-6-19-Jpeg.jpg
A full rendering of the Longview condo project, which will be built over multiple phases. Courtesy of The Longview

Making the layouts smaller was important for the project, Sandman said, because it allowed them to get the starting price ranges under $200,000. Sales, which have already started and are being manged by Jason Queen’s Monarch Realty, will start at $185,000 and the upper price range will be $400,000.

Sandman said that his group wanted to build a condo building instead of apartments because there was nothing inside the Beltline at this price point, especially at a location he called near downtown, the North Hills area and employment centers like WakeMed and several government complexes. He imagined a nurse buying in the building and then walking to work everyday.

But that means compromising on square footage.

“These units are a little bit smaller, but you are buying a lifestyle, right?” Sandman said, noting a list of amenities, like a pool, a gym and secured parking.

When asked whether the city was ready for the idea of buying living spaces that small, Sandman said he think so.

“Well, that is the great unknown,” he responded. “Certainly, that concept is big city. Places like Washington, Austin, New York, Chicago, they have these all over the place. But is Raleigh ready for it? I think so, but the market will decide that.”

As prices in the Triangle keep rising and more people decide to move here, residents will continue to be confronted with the idea of paying for living spaces.

In Durham, developer Scott Harmon recently announced he would be creating a condo building with small floor plans in an attempt to bring affordability back to the downtown area. Those condos would be even smaller than The Longview ones, coming in at 400 square feet in some cases.

“We are going to be introducing more of those small-unit layouts,” Harmon told The News & Observer last year when he submitted plans for the project. “We are trying to bring a little bit of diversity to the market, so that a wider range of people can have options downtown.”

Similarly, Sandman said he hopes to attract a mix of people to the building.

“I don’t know where else you buy at that price point,” he said. “We wanted it to be accessible for teachers and the service industry, your police officers and first responders — for everybody.”

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.